The Arnold P. Gold Foundation has named Veda Johnson, MD, the 2017 winner of the Pearl Birnbaum Hurwitz Humanism in Healthcare Award. This award is presented annually to a woman who exemplifies humanism and has advanced, through her scholarship, advocacy and leadership, the well-being of vulnerable populations in the healthcare arena. Dr. Johnson is an associate professor and general pediatrician at Emory University School of Medicine and Executive Director of Emory University Pediatric Department’s major youth advocacy initiative, Partners for Equity in Child and Adolescent Health.
Dr. Johnson’s vision — that medicine is a means to achieve social justice –has inspired each step in her career. She began working on school-based health clinics (SBHCs) in 1993 when she established the first SBHC in an underserved Atlanta community. Building on this model and the strength of the community partnerships she forged, she successfully lobbied donors, foundations and government agencies to add more SBHCs. In 2009 she established Partners for Equity in Child and Adolescent Health to enhance the health and wellbeing of Georgia’s underserved children. To date, 22 SBHCs have been opened, reaching over 11,000 students in some of the state’s poorest communities. The model has been so successful that it has spread to over 30 counties in rural Georgia as well as the metropolitan Atlanta area.
Dr. Johnson is recognized as an influential force locally, regionally, and nationally in school-based healthcare. She is an executive committee member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Council on School Health. In addition, she serves as Chair of the School Health Committee for the Georgia Chapter of the AAP and the Georgia School-Based Health Alliance.
“She is one of those rare treasures who has focused her immeasurable love of children into both vision and practice, allowing her not only to inspire countless students, teachers, community leaders, policymakers and philanthropists to action, but also to change the trajectory of child health, and subsequently, child success in one of the most significant ways ever seen by the state.” said Polly McKinney, Advocacy Director at Voices for Georgia’s Children.
Commenting on the awardee, Dr. Richard Levin, CEO of the Gold Foundation, said, “Dr. Johnson’s tireless advocacy and enduring vision have helped to change the face of pediatric care in Atlanta, across the state of Georgia, and nationwide.”
About Pearl Birnbaum Hurwitz (1907-1993)
Pearl Hurwitz was an advocate and humanitarian who championed the needs of vulnerable populations and fought for legislation to protect and bolster the lives of individuals who, by virtue of physical, social or economic circumstances, required services. The Award in her name was established in 2014 by a gift from Dr. Ronald Arky, the Daniel D. Federman Professor of Medicine and Medical Education at the Harvard Medical School and Master of the Francis Weld Peabody Society at that School.